It was probably a bad omen when The Tennessean
, under editor E.J. Mitchell's leadership, misspelled the name of new publisher Ellen Leifeld in its own pages the day it announced she was named. Then there was the exclamation point fiasco--E.J. wanted them on the section front of Living every day, Ellen didn't--followed by the six-month investigative series about "The Cost of Murder" that was neither surprising nor compelling. Along the way, the outgoing (some would say arrogant) Mitchell, who'd promised upon his arrival in December 2004 to meet personally with every newsroom staffer, was more of a mysterious corner-office figure than a coach to his reportorial minions. Many--indeed, most--staffers never met him personally.
Recently, in what could only be described as a patronizing, skin-cringing moment, Leifeld told a downtown Rotary Club meeting that members should feel free to give their business cards to Mitchell--who was in the audience--so that they could weigh in about what to do with the paper's schizophrenic business section.
Now, our sources tell us, Mitchell has left the building for the last time. They also say that Mitchell is expected to be reassigned to a smaller Gannett property. One name that has been floated as successor--an announcement is forthcoming--is Mark Silverman, a former Detroit editor and publisher who has most recently headed the Gannett News Service.
Mitchell did not return a call for comment. Stay tuned here and in the pages of the Scene
UPDATE: Silverman's the guy, and Mitchell has been banished to the Garden State.